65-Foot Crack Found In Wanapum Dam: 'The Next 24-48 Hours Are Cr - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

65-Foot Crack Found In Wanapum Dam: 'The Next 24-48 Hours Are Critical'

Posted: Updated:
PHOTO: NBCNews PHOTO: NBCNews
  • Also on KHQ.comMore>>

  • 65-Foot Crack Discovered In Wanapum Dam

    65-Foot Crack Discovered In Wanapum Dam

    Saturday, March 1 2014 4:29 PM EST2014-03-01 21:29:00 GMT
    BEVERLY, Wash. – Working in conjunction with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and independent engineers, Grant PUD continues to inspect and evaluate the crack found on a spillway section at Wanapum Dam on February 27.>>
    BEVERLY, Wash. – Working in conjunction with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and independent engineers, Grant PUD continues to inspect and evaluate the crack found on a spillway section at Wanapum Dam on February 27.>>
EPHRATA, Wash. -

BEVERLY, Wash - As dozens of engineers and technical experts continue to inspect a 65-foot crack found Thursday in one of the twelve spillways of the Wanapum Dam, inspectors believe the risk of public danger is low, but they are preparing for the worst-case scenario.

"For us this is a big deal, this is a serious issue and we’re treating it as such,”Grant County Public Utilities District spokesperson Thomas Stredwick told KHQ's Kelsey Watts. "It’s something that we haven’t faced before – and there are very few hydroelectric plants that have faced this before.”

Throughout the weekend and into Monday evening, the Columbia River was lowered 20 feet - both to relieve pressure on the aging structure and to allow for easier access for inspectors. However, determining what caused the crack and fixing the damage will take weeks if not months.

"We don’t believe we’re in the worst case scenario but we’re prepared for it," Stredwick added. "Worst case scenario, if there was a failure of this section of dam there would be an isolated release of water from that specific section of dam.”

Stredwick said even if this crack caused the affected spillway to fail, the other 11 spillways and the main structure of the dam would remain intact.

"That release of water would be within what we would expect this time of year, so there would be no impact to downstream residents, no flash floods," he explained.

In the rural area near Beverly, Washington, there is very little in the way of people or property downstream from the dam. Stredwick said that while there are some shoreline communities, they are not threatened.

The crack was discovered by divers roughly 70 feet below the surface Thursday, after an employee noticed an anomaly in the concrete road above the dam last Monday. That "anomaly" was a 2-inch bump that would have gone unnoticed by the untrained eye but signaled a big red flag for engineers.

"At the time they discovered the crack it was 2 inches wide, we believe that by reducing the water elevation above the dam that crack will shrink as things begin to settle,” he added. "The next 24-48 hours are critical for us."

Now, the top priority is stabilizing that section of dam. It has not been evacuated and is still generating hydro-electric power for thousands of people. As inspections continue and a fix is determined, If the dam is not able to continuing providing power nearby dams will be tapped for electricity or the Grant County PUD may choose to buy power from the open market, but Stredwick says there would not be any widespread outage.

The Grant County PUD owns and operates the Wanapum Dam and is working closely with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Departments of Transportation and Ecology and the Grant County Sheriffs Office to ensure the proper inspections and safety precautions are being taken.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • PHOTOS JUST IN: Devastation from Carlton Complex; 300 homes burned

    PHOTOS JUST IN: Devastation from Carlton Complex; 300 homes burned

    Saturday, July 26 2014 12:07 AM EDT2014-07-26 04:07:59 GMT
    TWISP, Wash. (AP) - The Okanogan County Sheriff says the Carlton Complex wildfire has many more homes than previously thought. Sheriff Frank Rogers said Friday that the Carlton Complex fire has consumed about 300 homes this month. His office previously placed the number at 150, but he said then he knew it would rise.>>
    TWISP, Wash. (AP) - The Okanogan County Sheriff says the Carlton Complex wildfire has many more homes than previously thought. Sheriff Frank Rogers said Friday that the Carlton Complex fire has consumed about 300 homes this month. His office previously placed the number at 150, but he said then he knew it would rise.>>
  • Throwback Thursday! Look At 'Sunshine Shelly' Through The Years!

    Throwback Thursday! Look At 'Sunshine Shelly' Through The Years!

    Thursday, March 20 2014 1:04 PM EDT2014-03-20 17:04:11 GMT
    KHQ.COM - It's throwback Thursday! Here is a slideshow we would like to share of Shelly Monahan through the years! For those of you who have been in Spokane for many years, and saw her through her "Sunshine Shelly" days, you will probably remember the Shelly from back in those days. Enjoy!>>
    KHQ.COM - It's throwback Thursday! Here is a slideshow we would like to share of Shelly Monahan through the years! For those of you who have been in Spokane for many years, and saw her through her "Sunshine Shelly" days, you will probably remember the Shelly from back in those days. Enjoy!>>
  • 44 Riverside homes destroyed or damaged in storm

    44 Riverside homes destroyed or damaged in storm

    Thursday, July 24 2014 3:46 PM EDT2014-07-24 19:46:53 GMT
    RIVERSIDE, Wash. - Many families were still at the Red Cross Shelter set up at Riverside High School in Riverside this morning.An afternoon storm destroyed or damaged 44 of their homes and knocked down close to 100 trees in Riverside Village Mobile Home Park.Many residents said the storm looked like a tornado as it swept through their neighborhood.>>
    RIVERSIDE, Wash. - Many families were still at the Red Cross Shelter set up at Riverside High School in Riverside this morning.An afternoon storm destroyed or damaged 44 of their homes and knocked down close to 100 trees in Riverside Village Mobile Home Park.Many residents said the storm looked like a tornado as it swept through their neighborhood.>>
  • Top Stories from KHQTop StoriesMore>>

  • Progress being made on power outages

    Progress being made on power outages

    Saturday, July 26 2014 10:26 AM EDT2014-07-26 14:26:55 GMT
    As of Saturday morning, there are just less than 6,000 customers without power in the Inland Northwest. There are still more than 2,602 Avista customers without power but Avista says reinforcement crews continue to arrive to help relieve and assist other crews who have been working around the clock. >>>SEE LATEST OUTAGE UPDATES>>>>>
    As of Saturday morning, there are just less than 6,000 customers without power in the Inland Northwest. There are still more than 2,602 Avista customers without power but Avista says reinforcement crews continue to arrive to help relieve and assist other crews who have been working around the clock. >>>SEE LATEST OUTAGE UPDATES>>>>>
  • Fatal collision on eastbound I-90

    Fatal collision on eastbound I-90

    Saturday, July 26 2014 10:14 AM EDT2014-07-26 14:14:27 GMT
    SPOKANE, Wash. - Troopers are investigating an auto-ped fatal crash on I-90 eastbound near mile post 280. A 59 year old man was crossing I-90 when he was hit by a pick up truck. He died on the scene. Police say the driver does not appear at fault and don't believe drugs or alcohol played a factor.>>
    SPOKANE, Wash. - Troopers are investigating an auto-ped fatal crash on I-90 eastbound near mile post 280. A 59 year old man was crossing I-90 when he was hit by a pick up truck. He died on the scene. Police say the driver does not appear at fault and don't believe drugs or alcohol played a factor.The man who died has been identified as Dennis Stensgar.>>
  • PHOTOS JUST IN: Devastation from Carlton Complex; 300 homes burned

    PHOTOS JUST IN: Devastation from Carlton Complex; 300 homes burned

    Saturday, July 26 2014 12:07 AM EDT2014-07-26 04:07:59 GMT
    TWISP, Wash. (AP) - The Okanogan County Sheriff says the Carlton Complex wildfire has many more homes than previously thought. Sheriff Frank Rogers said Friday that the Carlton Complex fire has consumed about 300 homes this month. His office previously placed the number at 150, but he said then he knew it would rise.>>
    TWISP, Wash. (AP) - The Okanogan County Sheriff says the Carlton Complex wildfire has many more homes than previously thought. Sheriff Frank Rogers said Friday that the Carlton Complex fire has consumed about 300 homes this month. His office previously placed the number at 150, but he said then he knew it would rise.>>